Motorists who try to illegally pass cars in roundabouts and intersections from the right lane or park in spots reserved for those with disabilities could have their cars impounded, Qatar’s Traffic Department has warned.
Announcing a crackdown on some of the most dangerous and irresponsible driving practices on Qatar’s roads, the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department said it is increasing the number of patrols on the streets to spot and take action against drivers who flout the law.
Repeat offenders risk having their car impounded for at least a month in addition to facing the usual QR500 fine for certain traffic violations.
As the number of cars on Qatar’s roads continues to rise – with some 9,000 new vehicles being registered monthly – traffic becomes an increasing headache for those trying to get around.
Impatient motorists can often be seen driving up the hard shoulder or even pavement to overtake traffic queues, and last-minute cutting in is a common complaint on Qatar’s roads.
The actions can be dangerous, as drivers in the queues are focused on the road ahead and often don’t spot the car intercepting their lane until it is too late.
Launching the new awareness campaign, Traffic Department Asst. Director Brig. Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani said the frequently-occurring breaches of the traffic law were “preventing others’ rights” on the roads and that “strict action” was being taken against those motorists.
Al-Thani warned that existing traffic cameras and radars were already recording those who are breaking the rules.
Just last week, the Traffic Department said it was sending out patrols of unmarked cars to spot and write-up motorists who break the law.
Capt. Hamad Ali al Misnad was quoted as saying that uniformed officers would be undertaking the spot-checks in a bid to catch those who only obeyed the traffic rules when they spotted a police car.
The patrols of eight teams were initially focused on particular problem areas such as Al Waab, C-Ring Road and 22 February Street/Expressway, but are to expand to other hot-spots.
Qatar’s roundabouts can be difficult to navigate, especially at busy times. Newcomers may not realize that priority goes drivers on the inside lane who are leaving the roundabout, as opposed to those in the right-hand lane.
To cope with congestion and avoid confusion, Qatar’s Public Works Authority Ashghal has been converting several roundabouts into signalized intersections.
Last December, checkpoints were set up around Qatar as part of a three-month long campaign to tackle issues such as not fastening seat belts, driving while talking on the phone and driving without a license.
As the number of cars on the roads increases, so have the number of accidents and traffic violations.
According to the latest government statistics available, there were 436 accidents in April, resulting in 526 minor injuries, 58 major ones and 29 deaths. That’s more than double the number of fatalities recorded in March.
Also in April, 160,955 traffic violations were recorded, mainly for speeding, but also for not following road traffic signs and not renewing car registration or driver’s licenses.
That’s up significantly on the nearly 94,000 citations issued the previous month.
While the news of the latest crackdown was welcomed on Facebook and Twitter, some residents are asking for even stricter penalties, pointing out that many people in Qatar have more than one car:
@MOI_QatarEn gr8! But will that deter people who have a multitude of cars & drivers at their disposal?
— Rubina Singh (@RubinaRadio) June 7, 2014
There was also calls for enforcement of the law on drivers using mobile phones while at the wheel, and bullying road behavior, such as those who drive up to the rear of a car, flashing their headlights to get the car in front to move out of the way.
MOI addressed flashing headlights and honking horn etiquette in a Facebook post last week, advice that residents said they hope more motorists will take to heart.